OK, are you ready? Sing with me now, “This is my country, land of my birth. This is my country, grandest on earth. I pledge thee my allegiance, America, the bold, for this is my country, to have and to hold.”
My country, mine, nobody else’s, just mine, oh, and my bride, family and friends, of course. Everybody else, get out, now, and don’t let the door hit you in the sitter on the way out.
That is ridiculous, of course. This is my country, but not literally. I mean, like most Americans, I feel I have a certain ownership in this great land, in no small part because of all the taxes my bride and I have paid over the years. But America belongs not just to one person, political philosophy or party, but to all 329 million of us (give or take a few).
Someone in President Trump’s re-election campaign, however, has decided to take the title of the 1940 patriotic song penned by Don Raye and Al Jacobs literally.
Earlier this week someone in Mr. Trump’s campaign sent out an email blasting Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
This came after AOC, as she is known by some in the media, called the Electoral College a “scam,” and said the method used to choose the nation’s presidents lessens the voting power of those in large cities, especially people of color.
In response, the Trump campaign sent out an email reading, “Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently called for abolishing the Electoral College. Remind her that this country belongs to AMERICANS from EVERY Zip Code, not just the Coastal Elites and Liberal Mega Donors. This is our country, not theirs.”
Well, the first part of the email is correct, anyway. The country does belong to Americans from every zip code, not just the coastal elites and liberal mega donors, or the non-elites from small towns and villages far from the coast and conservative mega donors.
But to say “this is our country, not theirs,” is so wrong.
Like it or not we’re all in this together, from fat cat West Coast liberals to deep South conservatives, from left-leaning Hollywood types to poor journalists in Enid, America.
This is my country, the song says, but what it really means is, this is our country.
And the sentiment is not limited to the native-born. The second chorus goes like this: “This is my country, land of my choice; this is my country, hear my proud voice.”
Those of us who were born in this great nation are not here by choice, but by a kind touch of the hand of fate and the grace of God (with a nod to our moms and dads, of course).
But those who were born elsewhere and who live here now have come by choice. And they have a right to raise their proud voices in proclamation of their love of their adopted home.
Us versus them. Why does everything have to devolve into us versus them these days? It is as if we are saying, I am right and everybody else is wrong, and even if I am wrong, everybody else is wronger.
Politics has always been the realm of us versus them, of course, the land of labels — conservative, liberal, right-winger, socialist — all in all politics is a realm that is a mile wide and a centimeter deep. It is a land of charges and counter-charges, attacks and rebuttals, a war not of body counts and blood but of dashed dreams and ruined reputations.
Us versus them. We, all of us who pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, are us. As for them, they are those who don’t have our nation’s best interests at heart, like the leaders of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, just to name a few.
We have taken the whole us versus them thing too far when it comes to our internal squabbles. We’re never going to agree on everything, and will hardly ever agree on anything, Lord knows, but this is a family squabble. Have you ever watched two brothers fight? Sometimes it seems they will tear each other apart. But step in between them and try to pick on one or the other and suddenly you’ve got a real scrap on your hands as they form a united front against you.
If you disagree with her, take Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to task for her views on the Electoral College, to be sure. That is your right as an American. But don’t try to imply that someone who holds conservative views is somehow more American than someone of a more liberal bent.
There is no rating scale for American-ism, no pecking order. We are Americans all. This my country, this is our country, one big us, with no them.